Biggest’s world has always been changing.
In the beginning was the light and she was small, and not Biggest yet. She had broken the egg, the first egg, the first walls, but the world still had edges too soon and she couldn’t move far.
She grew bigger in the light, in the edges, and then there was dark and light and dark and light, and she went through into air, ground, trees, earth, smell, wind, rain, mud. It was a world of more, but it still had edges, walls she couldn’t pass through, a bigger egg but an egg still, shell of pain wire.
She broke out, in the end.
For a while, the world was everywhere, unending, no shell at all. She ran and hunted and fought and won, and won, and won. And that was how she knew she was Biggest.
There were so many smalls – soft and pink, scaly and green, fat and slow, furry and high – but all the same smallness.
Except the Fasts. They were small, but tried to be everywhere too. They wanted the world, wanted to hurt, kill, eat her too, but she was Biggest.
But not big enough. Because the giant insects came and whirled above her head, too high to bite at, and a sting shot out of one and she was stung, and she was fallen, and there was dark.
And the shell came back, and pressed her down and in.
Edges. Pain wire. Twenty-five footsteps that way, twenty footsteps that way, stop. Stop. Edges. Prey already dead, or prey tied down, no running.
And outside the eggshell the soft smalls, unreachable, gathered. Not Biggest but Many. Many like the Fasts, because small and small and small is bigger than Biggest, if there are enough.
The day that she produced her eggs, she looked at them and thought of small Bigs around her feet. She thought of too many trapped there inside the walls, but also of telling them the story of the world, and maybe that they would be able to do another thing, something she had not thought of, that would break the world open again.
They might fit inbetween the wires, and run free.
Many small Bigs.
She built a nest carefully around the eggs, and waited.
But the insects came back, hovering, and she was stung, and when her eyes opened there were no eggs anymore.
Then she tried and tried to break the walls, to breach the shell and find the world again. Tried and tried until it hurt, until the ache closed her eyes and felled her, until it was like finding something in the world bigger than her, that would eat her, make her dead.
Why not be dead?
Anything was better than being Biggest in a tiny eggshell.
But the insects came and stung, and then the walls were different. No wire, just smooth shell, rounded, nothing.
She thought, for days and days and days and days, that this was forever.
She didn’t eat. Only the little, live, noisy smalls, because at least then she was Biggest, still. Not enough to keep her not dead, not for long.
And then the walls open.
Just a crack, just big enough for Biggest, and she runs.
There is another Big, but not right, all twisted into smells of softs and Fasts and other and wrong. The other Big is big, is strong, tall, teeth, claws, screaming wrong voice, but not biggest.
She is Biggest!
And Biggest fights.
There is a Fast fighting the other Big too. Biggest hates Fasts, but the other Big must be killed first.
She is Biggest! There is no more other Big, no more soft smalls. The egg has cracked and she has the world and the world is hers.
She keeps her guard, though, looking for the Fasts. Listening for them calling to each other.
But they don’t. That Fast has no other Fasts. It is not Many.
There is only one Fast and it creeps close sometimes, when Biggest goes to drink at the water, or when she leaves a carcass, and Biggest roars, but the Fast does nothing but watch, and run, and creep back and watch again.
It has more scars, now.
The Fasts hunted in a pack. There is no pack no. One Fast is a small, really. Things Biggest eats easily are bigger than a Fast.
Biggest is eating a Long-neck one day, and the Fast creeps in again, scenting the air.
There are many Long-necks, but the Fast will not get one alone.
Biggest does not roar. She can kill the Fast whenever she has to.
The Fast dashes in to eat, and dashes away again.
You are Fastest, now, Biggest realises.
Fastest blinks, then screams like Fasts do, all together in a flood of mostly nonsense.
Gone – Alpha – Gone – Charlie – Gone – Delta – Gone – Echo – Gone – Sister – Gone – Cage – Gone – Pig – Gone – Alpha – Gone – good girl – Gone – Sister – Gone
Biggest snorts. Thinking of gone things is like a wall.
Fastest not gone, Biggest points out.
Fastest. And then Biggest stands up to her full height. Biggest.
Alpha? Fastest has cocked its head – her head, Biggest is close enough to smell her now. Fastest blinks, staring, needing, not i-will-eat-you, not you-will-eat-me. Something else.
Fastest leaps and runs in a circle. Biggest – here – Biggest – here – Biggest – here – pack – hunt – together – good girl? She tumbles over and round like her ideas, and Biggest leans over to butt her nose against her, enough to slow her down.
Fastest makes a noise that isn’t a scream, then. A long soft trill that makes Biggest think about little eggs and nests, and treading very carefully. Fastest rubs her head against the curve of Biggest’s jaw.
The world is different, after that.
They wander around together, all through the old eggshell walls and the wide green flat and the river and the rock. They go up to the top of the world, where Biggest can roar to everywhere and everything and the noise goes on forever.
Fastest looks down at what is beneath them, all the world small from there.
Cage gone. Alpha gone.
These aren’t things Biggest understands. She doesn’t need to.
Gone and come, soft smalls and no soft smalls, light and dark and on and on, wait and see, eat today, Biggest observes. But always Fastest and Biggest.
Fastest turns away from the view, and Biggest nudges at her gently.
Fastest skitters up to sit on Biggest’s back, and leans her warm, restless head down against side of Biggest’s neck.
Story of the world?
Biggest sighs, contentedly, and hunkers down, and tells her again.